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If you are looking to increase your trailer hitch’s towing capacity, you may need a weight-distribution hitch to do it safely.

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What does a weight-distribution hitch do?

Weight distribution hitches operate by altering the point at which the trailer’s weight is passed on to the vehicle. They shift the weight off of the trailer ball and redistribute it to the vehicle’s rear axle and the trailer axle. This helps create a safe and level towing experience for heavy-duty hauling. Weight distribution hitches are sometimes called load-leveling hitches.

Is a Weight Distribution Hitch Necessary?

Although standard hitch receivers are good for most towing situations, they can be unsafe, hauling heavier payloads. Anything over 5,000 pounds, you will definitely want to upgrade your existing hitch with a weight distribution system. This is one of the biggest concerns with bumper pull trailers. If you look in your owner’s manual, most will state that you are required to have a weight-distribution hitch over 5,000 pounds. This weight is based on your fully-loaded trailer’s total weight with all of the gear the trailer will contain, otherwise known as Gross Trailer Weight (GTW).

Many weight distribution hitches offer sway control. Those are the ones we recommend. They result in little to no sway, less vehicle play, improve steering and stopping, and a level vehicle and trailer.

Trailer Weight and Tongue Weight

Trailers usually list the weight of the trailer along with the tongue weight on a placard. Keep in mind; those numbers are dry weight (an empty trailer) as they came from the factory. It’s nice to know, but you need to know the fully loaded weight or Gross Trailer Weight.

As you load the trailer, realize not only does the trailer’s gross weight increase, but depending on where the weight is loaded in the trailer, it can greatly increase or decrease tongue weight. Too much weight, especially behind the trailer’s axle, can be hazardous. Tongue weight should be no less than 10 percent and no more than 15 percent of gross trailer weight (GTW).

Knowing the exact weight of the tongue must be weighed when the trailer is loaded as you intend. Therefore, it’s best to have it professionally weighed. Most truck stops have large scales and offer this service, or you can always stop in a highway weight station as well.

How Does a Weight Distribution Hitch With Sway Control Work?

The trailer’s lateral movement of swaying creates a great deal of rotational force between the vehicle and trailer.

WDHs with built-in stabilizers create rotational friction between the spring arm attached to the vehicle hitch and the spring arm mounting bracket attached to the trailer frame. The amount of force the sway bars provide can be adjusted using a handle.

This dampening force reduces sway.

What is Trailer Sway?

As you drive down the highway, your trailer can start to swing like a pendulum. It can quickly go from a barely noticeable little side-to-side drifting action behind you to a nearly sideways trailer catastrophe, all at highway speeds. It can catch you off guard as you can go from that slight lift drift to an out-of-control trailer and a serious accident within a matter of about 15 seconds.

Often the way you load your trailer can make a big difference alone, but often it can still occur regardless. Approximately 60% of the allowable cargo weight should be in the front half of the trailer, and 40% in the rear, and cargo should be securely anchored. Neglecting to do so and then passing a large vehicle or a gust of wind can often kickoff an unfortunate chain of events.

The use of weight distribution hitches for Class III to Class V receivers generally increases the maximum trailer weight towing capacity and/or the maximum allowable tongue weight. Class I and II are only rated for light-duty towing and are not heavy-duty enough for a distribution system.

Be sure to refer to the vehicle’s owner’s manual for the vehicle’s maximum towing weight and specific information about weight distribution hitches and your specific vehicle. Most manufacturers offer electronic copies on their sites if you can’t find one in your glove box.

Failing to use a weight-distribution hitch when you should cause excessive tongue weight or more pressure on the hitch than there should be. That excessive weight on the hitch pushes the rear of the vehicle down towards the ground.

Is an unlevel trailer dangerous?

A squatting or unlevel trailer or vehicle resulting from heavy cargo doesn’t just look bad; it’s dangerous. Excess weight on the hitch ball makes that heavy trailer apply brute force to the rear of the tow vehicle when slowing and turning, shoving the tow vehicle all around.

Also, it can put too much strain on one axle on a dual axle trailer, risking breaking that axle and too much load on a single set of tires, risking a tire blowout.

As a result, operating your vehicle can become a terrifying experience, your hands squeezing the steering wheel for dear life as you struggle to maneuver even low-speed turns and curves.

While the back end of the tow vehicle sags, the front end points up into the air. At night, your headlights are now pointing up higher than they should, making it hard to see.

Then with the increased braking distances, you have your heart pounding out of your chest, trying to make quick stops trying to avoid causing rear-end accidents.

The point is that all of this is that it is hazardous and completely unnecessary. Don’t put yourself through this stress; don’t put your family or others on the road in this dangerous predicament. Do it right, avoid these situations, and invest in a good weight distribution hitch with sway control.

Trailer Balls for Weight Distribution Hitches

Although there are not specific tow hitch balls designed for weight distribution hitches, not every tow ball will make the grade. Just because your distribution hitch can handle 10,000 lbs doesn’t mean the ball can.

The 2″ diameter hitch ball is the top-selling hitch ball. These 2-inch tow balls can be purchased with gross trailer weight ratings from 3,500 to 12,000 lbs.

A Class III hitch used for weight distribution has a gross trailer weight (GTW) of 10,000 lbs.

Don’t make your tow ball the weak link. So when selecting a tow ball for your weight distribution hitch, pick one that exceeds the weight of your trailer.

You also need to make the ball matches the size of your trailer’s coupler. The shank is the correct diameter to match the mount hole diameter. Shank diameters come in 3/4 inch, 1 inch, and 1-1/4 inch. Odds are your weight distribution hitch will require the 1-1/4 inch hitch.

 
 

Curt Manufacturing is well known for its high-quality trailer hitches and towing accessories.

The CURT 17062 MV Round Bar Weight Distribution Hitch offers a towing capacity of 8,000 to 10,000 lbs. GTW and a range of 800 to 1,000 lbs. Tongue Weight. Mounting hardware, a 2-5/16″ trailer ball, and Sway control unit #17200 is included.

This hitch is well made, well finished, and packaged at a significantly lower price than its competitors. This is despite being made by a foreign manufacturer.

2. EAZ LIFT 48058 1,000 lbs Elite Weight Distribution Hitch

 

The WD Hitch starts with a heavy-duty cast steel head. The molded construction allows for precise design and provides the durability needed to carry a heavy trailer’s weight. In addition, the MV weight distribution coupling has a grease nipple built directly into the head that can be quickly and continuously lubricated at the spring beam’s mounting point.

Like all CURT weight distribution couplings, the MV round bar is supplied with an adjustable bar and a chain attachment bracket to ensure perfect tension to level the load. The rod fits into any 2″ x 2″ opening of the pick-up tube, making it compatible with most Class 3, 4, and 5 trailer couplings.

3. Husky 30849 Round Bar Weight Distribution Hitch

 

The hitch distributes the weight evenly across the tow vehicle and trailer for improved control and stability, easier braking, less load on the vehicle, better traction, and a smoother ride. It is equipped with a twist ball and shank assembly and has a tongue up to 1200 pounds. The ball deck is raised for better hitch clearance.

4. Husky 31425 Round Bar Weight Distribution Hitch

 

The strength of the MV round bar coupler starts with the high-strength cast steel head. The MV weight coupler has a grease fitting built directly into the head for easy and continuous lubrication at the spring bar mounting point; the spring bar is installed from the bottom of the MV head, and forged steel is used for optimal strength. The rod fits into a 2″ x 2″ receiver tube opening and is compatible with most Class 3, Class 4, and Class 5 towing hitches. The head is also compatible with a weight distribution bar to accommodate our 2-1/2″ heavy Class 5 hitch.

6. Husky 32218 Center Line TS Weight Distribution Hitch

 

The Centerline TS offers swing control, superior performance, and value for money. The Centerline TS is a new advanced, lighter, and more compact design based on the award-winning Centerline HD. The lifting bracket, head, and spring bars all work together to provide a very smooth and responsive stroke – a significantly quiet stroke than any other product on the market.

Trunion-type spring bars fit the most common weight ranges and offer unsurpassed integrated weight distribution and roll control, superior performance, increased ground clearance, and unmatched value. Husky’s team of engineers developed the Centerline TS in nearly three years. They have incorporated advanced design, the latest technology, and materials science into their products to improve the towing experience dramatically. As a result, the Centerline TS replaces a product that has remained relatively unchanged for over 20 years.

The result is the most dramatic new weight distribution system on the market today. By integrating weight distribution and roll control, the Center Line TS offers superior performance and solves many of the defects of older technology products. Moreover, weight distribution and roll control are designed to work! The top plate of the Center Line TS is made of 1035 forged steel.

Forging 1035 produces a much stronger attachment with excellent fatigue characteristics. The kingpin is made of hardened 1045 steel, which guarantees exceptional strength and wear characteristics. The tapered spring bar offers a superior fit and appearance. Precise spring bar, head, and lifting bracket tolerances; the TS responds to trailer oscillation faster than competitive products, resulting in a smoother, quieter ride.

7. Blue Ox BXW1000 Weight Distribution Hitch

 

The Blue Ox Sway Pro is a weight distribution coupling that prevents the trailer from swaying. The Sway Pro relies on tension to keep the spring rods taut, and the brackets ensure that the pressure on the spring rods keeps the trailer in line with the towing vehicle.

The Sway Pro uses weight distribution technology with integrated pendulum protection for the trailer. It has been computer designed and geometrically optimized to provide the highest trailer protection and weight distribution without additional adjustments.

The sway protection incorporated into the coupling head is designed to allow easy access for tightening the coupling ball. This built-in stabilizer bar allows one of the stabilizer bar loads to be higher than the other so that the trailer is centered and remains in line with the towing vehicle in the event the trailer swings.

These built-in anti-roll bars are safer than conventional anti-roll bars and can reduce trailer swaying, but they do not bring the trailer back in line with the towing vehicle.

Stops swaying before they begin using spring bars to keep the trailer in line and always pushing inward to keep it in line.

A hitch head and caliper lock are included as standard. If your trailer has a coupler welded to the top of the frame and your trailer doesn’t have a tongue or equipment lock cross member, this model will work for you.

8. CURT 17322 Weight Distribution Hitch

 

Keep your trailer in line with this system using a friction-padded telescoping bar to compensate for the trailer sway.

The built-in head grease zerks make maintenance easier, while the traditional 17022 requires adding grease to the round head bar sleeve and wiping off the excess rather than simply using a grease gun.

It includes an adjustable shank and a pre-torqued 2-5/16″ hitch ball.

9. Reese 49913 Weight Distribution Hitch

 

Founded in 1952 by TJ Reese, Reese pioneered the technology that sets the standard for the design of today’s advanced trailer systems. Reese Products has earned a reputation as one of North America’s leading manufacturers of towing systems.

The Reese Pro Round Bar weight distribution system offers more features than any other system and superior driving performance. It is designed to distribute weight evenly and reduce trailer sway.

This complete weight distribution system includes 2-5/16″ hitch balls tightened to the hitch head, tapered spring bars for a smooth ride, control brackets with non-perforating clamps, lift assist bars, hardware, and for today’s larger trucks Includes a square hitch bar (shank) with 8-1/2″ drop depth Limited Lifetime Warranty.

10. EAZ LIFT Elite Weight Distribution Hitch

 

Over 50 years ago, the Eaz-Lift became the first patented weight distribution system in North America. Designed with fewer parts, the forged tapered spring steel round bar provides a smoother ride with interchangeable bars with an aggressive locking action for operation. The Eaz-Lift Elite Bent Bar Weight Distribution Hitch Kit includes the Eaz-Lift Includes hitch brackets, spring bar, chain, hitch ball, 2-5/16″ ball carrier, hitch pins, clips, and bolt kit for an adjustable hitch.

Eaz-Lift’s swing control is superior to cam-action swing control. There are no noise issues or reduced ground clearance; Eaz-Lift’s rocker control is different from cam-action rocker control, which relies on the link’s weight to operate. It’s different and can be easily unlocked even in poor road conditions. Also, the Ease Lift’s rocker control means you won’t lose the ability to control your roll during turns. It comes with a slide rod, crank, spring clip, friction plate, ball tongue plate, self-tapping screw, and chrome tongue ball. Ease Lift has been inventing and manufacturing the best hitch technology since 1952.

Types of Weight Distribution Hitches

  • Trunnion Bar – A weight distribution hitches provide precise leveling of the towing setup using a square spring bar mounted in the center of a ball mount.
  • Round Bar – This is the more traditional design of the weight distribution hitch, using round bars attached to the ball’s bottom. This setup provides greater clearance when coupling the trailer to the vehicle, as the design is clipped to the ball mount.

How to Calculating Tongue Weight

Weighing Vehicle and Trailer.

[wc_box color=”inverse” text_align=”left” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=””] Pro-Tip: Advise them before you start that you are doing two different weighing operations. Re-weighs are generally given for a discounted fee. [/wc_box]

First, realize that most scales have two different pads so that the vehicle can sit on one, and the trailer can sit on the other. That way, your final scale slip showing the results shows the vehicle’s weight, the weight of the trailer, and the gross weight. But you also want to know how much weight is being applied as a downward force on the hitch or the tow weight.

So now you know on the first weigh how much the vehicle weighed with the trailer attached and pressing down on the hitch on the vehicle pad, then how much the vehicle itself weighed without the trailer.

Now perform the typical weigh-in described above. Now pull the rig off of the scale and detach the trailer. Finally, return to the scale and weigh just the vehicle itself.

The difference between those numbers is the Tongue Weight.